Interview with Frank Thorne’s Daughter: Wende Thorne

1. Can you describe what it was like growing up as the daughter of Frank Thorne; furthermore, do you have a particularly fond memory which illustrates his and your relationship?

Since my father’s current fame came to him long after I was on my own, growing up with Frank Thorne was simply growing up with a really great dad.  He was always there for me and my brother and two sisters. Since his studio was in our home (the same one he works and lives in today), he scheduled all his working hours around our school hours. He would even work late into the night if it meant not missing any of the events we kids were involved in. He even carried on this tradition when he and my mother raised their grandson.

Our house was the “best place on the block” growing up. All of our friends loved coming over to play with the Thornes because it often included my dad! He would dress up as an “injun” and scare the shit out of us when we were playing cowboys and Indians, and WE LOVED IT!

My father also knew a lot of starving artists living in Greenwich Village in New York. It was the late 50s, early 60s, and he and my mom would invite several of them over for spaghetti dinners in the summer. My brother and I weren’t allowed to stay up passed bedtime, so we would sneak down from our beds and listen behind the stairs to all their exotic tales and bohemian stories. We were so enchanted by what we heard!

We never had a television until the late 50s. I think I was around eight years old when our first set arrived. We rarely watched it, though. We were always restricted to two programs per week, and never on a school night. But we didn’t care—my father always dressed up as an “ol’ prospector”, and read us stories from Edgar Allen Poe and Robert Service—we had the real thing! Who cared about a stupid television show??

But perhaps my fondest memories were our family musicales. My mother would accompany my father on the e-flat horn and I on the French Horn. We would play into the evening (mostly Mozart horn concertos). My father and I share the same sense of humor, especially when it comes to bodily noises, and often during these musicales we would look over at each other and just bust out laughing—especially when one of our instruments sounded out like that of a fart!

2. In the Gary Groth interview conducted with your father, published in the Comics Journal #280, it was mentioned that you had plans to produce a documentary about his work. Can you give us an update on this venture?

It’s an ongoing work in progress. We have no budget for it, so we are producing it around all our other commitments. It’s been slow-going, but it will be produced! So far we have interviewed several of my father’s art school buddies and a few of his protégés.

3. What do you think has kept your parents together for such a long time, given that they appear to have diametrically opposing views on several major issues, most notably, that of god and faith?

Undying mutual respect and adoration for each other; my mother has and always has had a fiercely independent spirit. And she has always been passionate about her music. They met through their love of music.

4. Do you have a passion for comics and or fantasy in general?

Not a passion, but definitely an interest in fantasy in particular. I know it might sound cliché, but I’m a big fan of Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings.”

5. Some of your father’s work has been looked upon as being extremely controversial, especially his later material. Specifically have you read “The Iron Devil” and if so, what were your reactions when you did?

I have proof-read most of my father’s work, but not the Iron Devil. His work is his work—I have always kept an objective eye—his work is what he does. He is always first and foremost, in my eyes, a really great father and friend.

6. Who is the real Frank Thorne, Thenef the Mage, Shard the dirty yet charming old man, Uncle Zit, or are these all just facets of the same man?

He’s an amalgam of them all…

7. At what age were you exposed to your father’s work? Did you ever help to give him ideas for stories?

I have always been exposed to my father’s work. His studio is still located in the same spot it was when I was growing up—right next to my bedroom. In fact, we shared a bathroom, so my sisters and brother and I always had plenty of opportunities to see what was on the drawing board. He never locked the door. His drawing board was, literally, an “open book”.

I’m not aware that I ever gave him ideas for stories…then again, he never needed ideas! I do remember holding poses for him when he was working freelance for Golden Magazine and was illustrating for lots of children’s stories.

8. Did the two Memoirs which your father wrote “Drawing Sexy Women” and “The Crystal ballroom” help you at all to better understand him, was there information that you had not previously known that you enjoyed learning?

I had already known about all the characters mentioned in “Drawing Sexy Women” and “The Crystal Ballroom”. In fact, a few of them were aunts and uncles of mine! What I did enjoy learning from reading “The Crystal Ballroom” is that my father had a much more intimate relationship with his mother and father than I was aware. My grandparents were often quiet and reserved around us kids growing up…I was comforted to learn that they were so supportive of my father, even though they didn’t quite understand what he was about…

9. Much of your father’s work has remained out of print, and of the work that is in print a great deal of it has been changed from its original format. For example “Ghita” which once appeared in beautiful full color has been given a black and white treatment.  Is there a possibility that you would ever try to correct this great injustice in comics?

HELL YES!!

10. Who is your favorite Frank Thorne character?

Frank Thorne as himself…

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3 Responses to “Interview with Frank Thorne’s Daughter: Wende Thorne”

  1. Diane Widell Ross Says:

    I had the privilege of being a friend to Frank’s daughter Wende back in the 1960s. We had lots of fun at their house and in the neighborhood, especially during the winter. There was a pond nearby which when frozen provided a great place to ice skate.

    My family moved to Scotch Plains from Florida in January 1964. We lived on Lake Avenue, just a short distance from the Thorne home.
    I’d like to contact Wende to see if she remembers me from so many years ago.

    Diane Widell Ross

    • Wende Thorne Fazio Says:

      Diane! Of course I remember you! Your house on Lake Avenue had a really great creek running along your backyard. Housell’s Pond was THE place to be in winter! My parents are both still with us and live in the same house on Grenville Road! Would love to hear more from you. Contact info is below.

  2. Thanks for finally writing about >Interview with Frank Thornes Daughter: Wende Thorne |
    CarnalComics’s Blog <Loved it!

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